Professor Paddle: NRS Un-Pin Kit
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Slackkinhard
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  Quote Slackkinhard Replybullet Topic: NRS Un-Pin Kit
    Posted: 20 Oct 2015 at 2:35pm
I need some equipment for my boat...however I'm a newbie and don't know the best way of going about it. I took a swiftwater rescue course and have some other similar experience, but I don't know where to source the necessities. Is the NRS kit a reasonable place to start, or is there a more thoughtful approach?

any help greatly appreciated
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paddlemonster
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  Quote paddlemonster Replybullet Posted: 20 Oct 2015 at 2:44pm
The items in the kit are definitely decent, but you can assemble a kit like this yourself for less money. The pulleys and throw bag will still be the most expensive part, but I'll bet you could assemble most of this for less.


Edited by paddlemonster - 20 Oct 2015 at 2:46pm
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mikefromTX
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  Quote mikefromTX Replybullet Posted: 20 Oct 2015 at 7:00pm
I carry everything I need to set up a 3:1 (z drag). Just make sure you have everything to set up a mechanical advantage and webbing to set an anchor with. Don't just throw them in your boat and forget either. I get practice at work with the rescue team and doing other rope access and high angle stuff, and it's the same thing we use for crevasse rescue while climbing. Even still, sometimes I look at the rope like an idiot for a few seconds until it clicks. For the price of that pin kit you could almost make your own with a rig and ascender and skip the prusiks.Don't forget extra biners. I've never been climbing or working and regretted having too many.
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megspk
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  Quote megspk Replybullet Posted: 20 Oct 2015 at 7:10pm
Making your own pin kit is easy and fun to do (in my opinion). I found all the parts I needed at REI. My pin kit fits in my Astral vest and I boat with it every time I kayak.
I'd be down to set up some Z drags and to show you my pin kit!
Did you get a boat stuck Slakkinhard??
“A strong person and a waterfall always channel their own path.” -Unknown

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Slackkinhard
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  Quote Slackkinhard Replybullet Posted: 21 Oct 2015 at 10:34am
No pins yet....but last night I turned around and saw both of my buddies swimming...one boat is hard enough, chasing two could have ended differently, especially in higher water.  Totally interested in creating my own if ya got any pointers 
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  Quote NateW Replybullet Posted: 21 Oct 2015 at 9:10pm
#1 Make sure everyone in your party has airbags in your boat. I'm shocked at how often people are paddling stuff where they could swim without them.

The BCU course I took down in Portland was a kayak specific course, and taught doing a Z-drag without prusiks and pulleys. Most boats can be unpinned without a Z setup, and if you do need a Z setup, it's rare that you need to pull very far, eliminating the need for prusiks.

http://www.paddling.net/sameboat/Images/prusik8.gif

Replace the prusik with a simple overhand knot. Prusiks definitely don't take up much room, so carrying a prusik is a decent idea.

~4 locking carabiners, a big roll of webbing, and a nice throwbag.
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  Quote imageAK Replybullet Posted: 21 Oct 2015 at 11:18pm
Good tow leash helps rescueing boats majorly! I made my own, same as the nrs tow bungie, tuck it in your vest and pull it out quick when you gotta get a swamped boat to shore. Takes 1/10th the effort and time. Ive even towed a boat with my leash while a peraon held onto my stern handle. Way less work than plowing a boat to shore.
aint nobody got time for that!
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  Quote NateW Replybullet Posted: 22 Oct 2015 at 8:12am
The BCU course discourages the use of tow ropes to rescue boats. I fall on the side of not using them unless it's on pretty mellow whitewater. There is potential for the release mechanism on your PFD to not work properly, and being attached to another boat can be seriously dangerous. For stuff like rescuing a boat on the Wenatchee they can be pretty damn useful.
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  Quote mikefromTX Replybullet Posted: 22 Oct 2015 at 8:45am
Not carrying prusiks or pulleys are seriously setting yourself up for failure. Without them, you've limited yourself to a system where 2 vital things work against you:

1.) You cannot capture progress. Once you take rope stretch into account, your going to get a very small amount of movement on your 1 pull. When you release the rope all the tension you gained will be released because there is no prusik at the anchor.

2.) You cannot reset the system if your tying an overhand knot. Just because MOST situations MAY not need more than one pull, doesn't mean it's a good idea not to be prepared for other scenarios.

Petzl pulleys that go on a carabiner are 5$ a piece and weigh only a few ounces. I have prusik minding pulleys as I sometimes boat with just my partner, so if I have to rescue him, I must do it alone.
Not having pulleys also diminishes the amount of advantage you gain, as friction from a wet rope around the biners will be significant compared to pulleys.

Creating a 3 to 1 without prusiks and pulleys is both possible, and maybe adequate depending on the situation. To limit yourself on gear to save a few ounces is neither reasonable nor prudent. This is my opinion, and to each his own.

At the end of the day were talking about maybe 6 ounces of gear and 10 to 30$ depending on what you buy. Why someone would take a minimalist approach to rescue gear doesn't make a lot of sense to me. There are people with much more rescue training and experience than me, so maybe there's a reasoning here I don't understand. Just my 2 cents on the subject.
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  Quote itchy Replybullet Posted: 22 Oct 2015 at 10:34am
I'm curious if anyone has used a Z-drag to unpin a live kayaker.  I've only used them on rafts, after everyone has been safely unloaded, and I think once to get some wood out of a drop. Obviously they're not uncommonly used on kayaks but I think less frequently than in the past, now that we're not creeking in Overflows, and both pinning and pitoning are a little less common. Nonetheless, it seems that Z-drags are used on empty boats and in some cases really bad pins, after rescue efforts have been unsuccessful and there is time to set up a Z-drag.  But that's just me and my experience (and overheard stories) which are basically just anecdata.

What I have done in the past is get a line under a pinned boater's (and also foot-entrapped swimmer's) chest and pulled their heads above the surface, and then after that the rest of the rescue (getting the kayaker out of the boat, and cutting of the sandal of the raft swimmer) can proceed at a bit more stately pace.  I don't remember this being talked about a lot in my rescue training, which admittedly was part of raft guide training 15 years ago so things might be different in a modern swiftwater course.  Both of those incidences involved 3+ rescuers so we didn't fix the ropes to anything that I can remember, but looking back on it, I might spend some time thinking about how to really quickly get a line across a river and have it fixed on at least one side.

Maybe I should just keep a come-along in my stern.  It'd help with boofs and squirts too.
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  Quote megspk Replybullet Posted: 22 Oct 2015 at 1:51pm
Z drags definitely take some time and quick thinking to set up. I have never seen one used on a live kayaker, in real life or in videos. If a person is that "stuck" I'd imagine your primary goal is to keep their head above water without putting yourself in danger. I think a zdrag would rip off any points of contact on rescue vest and it wouldn't be a good idea to have a rope wrapped around a swimmer, this would really impede their ability to breathe even if their head was above water, plus it's unsafe.

In the case of the necessity of the zdrag kit: I feel it's always necessary to have it on you because you never know when you may need it. Especially in the case of more remote runs or more difficult runs. Obviously the difficulty of the river increases the likelihood you could be pinned. The remoteness decreases the timeliness in which you can get to help or off the river. In these cases it's best if you can rescue your gear on your own so you can get off the river and back to your car VS. hiking out and potentially getting lost or ending up in trouble with hypothermia, injuries, bears, meth heads, etc.
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  Quote NateW Replybullet Posted: 22 Oct 2015 at 11:39pm
In most pinned boat situations a boat probably only need to be pulled back a few feet to release it from the pin. A lot of the time, just dragging the thing out without any sort of mechanical advantage will probably work. If you do need mechanical advantage, you may only need it for those first few feet. For my feeble little mind, a prusik/pulley-less system is just easy for me to setup, it's not a matter of saving money or weight. If you're dealing with rafts, prusiks and pulleys are definitely required. All of that stuff is just about gear recovery most of the time anyway.

I think good self rescue/swimming skills, an easily accessible throwbag (that isn't dryrotted), pratice throwing the damn thing, good communication, and a multitude of other things are far more important that how you setup your Z-drag.

I was up on the Thompson this year, and I was in my playboat, so I didn't bother bringing my breakdown (even though it does fit). I did not know that once you're actually on the river there, there is not a lot of access to get out of the canyon. Nobody in my rather large group bothered to bring one either, but a lost paddle there could be a *huge* walk or a big swim across the river, or both.

I've also run the icicle (which is challenging for my ability level) with just a dry top and shorts. My paddling buddy very nicely reminded me that you don't dress for the weather - which was nice - but for the potential swim.

I'm not really trying to expand this to a wider discussion, but I do think it's easy to get hung up on more complex things like un-pin kits and Z-drag systems, when far more basic and more important things can get neglected.
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  Quote JayB Replybullet Posted: 26 Oct 2015 at 2:30pm
-Good points, folks, thanks for chiming in. Learning how to do all of the rescue stuff is something that falls into the "Necessary, but not sufficient" category. Learning the techniques is relatively easy, but learning when and where to use them is harder and takes quite a bit more time for most people. Some combination of logging lots of river miles and practice seems to be necessary to have the kind of judgment and skill necessary to respond to a rescue-situation effectively.

I'm hardly an authority on the subject, but after being at this for a while here's a few things that seem like useful nuggets to pass on.

-I think that bringing the right mindset to the river can help situations where a technical rescue is necessary from materializing. That sounds like a silly circular platitude, but what I mean by that is bringing along an appropriate gear and mindset for the stretch of river you're running. I could blather on about that for a while, but groups where everyone has floats and throw-bags in their boats, people maintain good spacing, and keep tabs on each other (including checking in about scouting) have been way less cluster-prone than groups where one or more of these rules gets violated by one or more people.

-All things being equal, often the fastest/simplest rescue technique is the most effective. In terms of things that I've actually seen firsthand, the order goes bow-rescue, getting close enough to the victim to either grab them or have them grab something solid, live-bait rescues, and then everything else after that. Thankfully I've never been in a situation where anyone had to string a line across a river to stabilize an entrapped paddler, but I've heard from enough people who have to think that what Itchy said is worth paying attention to.

-Using a pulley system isn't likely to help a pinned boater in time to save them, but getting a boat out in a remote/gorged-out river can sometimes keep a badly pinned boat from turning into an epic.

-Hands-on experience is the best way to learn, but I think that reviewing videos can also be useful. Have mercy on yourself and skip past the terrible editing and boring footy - you can see an example of a bow-pin subsequent boat-extraction from 9:44-10:20 in this vid. In this case the boater was able to self rescue before anything more complicated was necessary, but it took some fidgeting to get his boat out.

https://vimeo.com/4834983

Here's my favorite example of a situation where the rescue could have conceivably been conducted more effectively.

http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xh1es8_crazy-whitewater-kayaker-beatdown_sport


~Also not sure why first guy down chucked his paddle at the top of the drop.


Edited by JayB - 26 Oct 2015 at 2:33pm
-Jay
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Jed Hawkes
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  Quote Jed Hawkes Replybullet Posted: 26 Oct 2015 at 3:18pm
Originally posted by Slackkinhard

Totally interested in creating my own if ya got any pointers 



One often overlooked bit when people assemble a pin kit is the diameter of the prussik cord. Most throw bags are pretty thin line so a traditional prussik line for climbing will be inadequate for the thin line and will slip when under load and wet. Make sure you use the proper ratio for your prussik. The rule of thumb is that your prussik be at least 2mm less than the rope diameter (but you might look that up in the Freedom of the Hills book for confirmation).

If your prussik isn't the correct size it can sometimes shred the ropes sheath and then you are back at square one.

The prussik is universally useful, Like MikefromTX stated; capture is important. Capture can be useful in a z-drag as well as hauling a boat. If you need to haul several boats up a steep cliff it is sometimes nice to set up a pulley and a prussik for a break that way you can take a break hauling and not have to hold the line while you rest. If you bone up on your mountaineering and rock climbing skills you can also use it as a backup on a rappel (this is particularly useful when being forced to rappel on the thin throw bag line that doesn't have much friction).

If every person in your group has at least one sling, two prussiks, two locking biners and one pulley on them at all times you can get some serious work done in a pinch without have a full on pin kit.

The advantage to DIY is that you can choose what pulley's you use. There are several out there and they all are similar but if you looking to save weight then take a minute and shop around because there is a surprising range. Also, get a minding pulley, they ahve a square bottom edge that pushes your prussik so you don't need to manually mind you brake prussik. (For Example http://www.mountaingear.com/webstore/Gear/Climbing/Ascenders-pulleys/Petzl/Mini-Prusik-Minding-Pulley/_/R-217996.htm) This is useful when you are assembling and managing a z-drag without a partner.

Same goes with Carbiners.

In addition to having the basics in my PFD at all times it's also nice to have a proper full kit in a drybag in your boat that doesn't get used unless it's during a rescue. The stuff you keep in your PFD is always wet and will likely get used for things other than rescue and in the long run will have more wear and tear.

For most days of the year I have a Watershed Futa with a spare paddle, med kit, light layer, hat, snack, pin kit and other safety gear that comes on just about all runs that I do. Makes a already heavy boat much heavier but it will help you with your cardio.

Once you take a whitewater rescue course I reccomend picking upa copy of Freedom of the Hills by the Mountaineers. It's the most comprehensive look at climbing and mountain travel and many of the skills you learn in a swift water type class can be expanded by doing a little light reading in this book.
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  Quote Jed Hawkes Replybullet Posted: 26 Oct 2015 at 3:31pm
Originally posted by JayB


-All things being equal, often the fastest/simplest rescue technique is the most effective. In terms of things that I've actually seen firsthand, the order goes bow-rescue, getting close enough to the victim to either grab them or have them grab something solid, live-bait rescues, and then everything else after that. Thankfully I've never been in a situation where anyone had to string a line across a river to stabilize an entrapped paddler, but I've heard from enough people who have to think that what Itchy said is worth paying attention to.


This is something that I hammered on Rookie raft guides about. They would be fresh faced out of swiftwater and get in a minor pin situation and they would immediately go full Sylvester Stallone in Cliffhanger, ropes and pulleys and all the mess. Insure they are stable, try pulling with you hands, attach a rope and try pulling with multiple people, attach a rope and do vector pulls, then when nothing else works break out the gear and put you heads together to get the boat out.

Everyone is excited to use their shiny gear but it's usually not the quickest and simplest way to go about it.

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